1. Why is Booking.com doing this?

2. Who can apply to the Booking Booster Programme?

3. What are the judging criteria?

4. What stages and dates are key to the Programme?

5. Does Booking.com take equity?

1. Why is Booking.com doing this?

In helping travellers to explore and experience more than 100,000 unique destinations all over the world, Booking.com also seeks to contribute to the ongoing health of these same destinations so that future generations can continue to enjoy them for years to come. With the Booking.com Booster programme, Booking.com will identify, mentor and help fund promising startups that are seeking to have an innovative, positive impact on the global tourism industry.

This is an extension of the work we’ve been doing for the past three years as part of our Booking.com Cares Volunteer Programme, contributing our time and expertise to help improve destinations worldwide. Through our Cares Volunteer Programme, Booking.com employees are involved in projects sponsored by our NGO partners all across the globe. Employees can work on something that matters to the local community and at the same time has a real impact on making tourism in our destinations (more) sustainable.

Booking.com employees have spent time preserving natural resources, such as beach clean-ups and national park maintenance, as well as helping to protect endangered wildlife species indigenous to specific destinations. We have supported organisations that are promoting and preserving cultural heritage by volunteering at events supporting culture or at monuments and landmarks that make a destination special. We have also volunteered our time and expertise supporting organisations that support inclusive growth by making sure that local communities and areas are able to benefit and make a healthy living through tourism. This includes supporting a tour operator that employs former homeless people as tour guides or a volunteering with a hotel that has employees former refugees as two-thirds of their staff.

With the Booking.com Booster Programme, Booking.com will back a select group of social enterprise startups with financial support in the form of grants of €100-500k, and support them with valuable expertise throughout a 3-week booster programme in Amsterdam, along with ongoing mentoring and coaching. The focus is on helping startups with demonstrable impact in the sustainable tourism sector in one (or all) of the following areas to scale their business and impact globally: protecting the environment, preserving cultural heritage and/or promoting inclusive growth in tourism that supports and develops local economies and communities.

With our Booster Labs, we are taking our Booking Booster on the road - with programmes taking place in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North America. Over the course of a weekend, early-stage startups will have the chance to learn from experts in startup growth and sustainable tourism, and be paired with the very best mentors from Booking.com to provide guidance and support as they learn the ropes of growing their businesses. Surrounded by passionate people and with the best tools and approaches at their disposal, the startups will take the necessary steps to achieve more scale and deliver measurable impact. The weekend will culminate in a pitch on the startup's roadmap and impact before an expert jury with the chance to win grants between €10,000 and € 25,000. The first Booster Lab will take place in Tel Aviv from March 1 - 3.

By investing our time, expertise and capital into these promising social enterprise startups, Booking.com can help work together with them towards a more sustainable future for the global travel industry.


2. Who can apply to the Booking.com Booster Programme?

Any scale-up that is seeking a positive impact in sustainable tourism; growth ventures that benefit the environment, preserve or promote cultural heritage, help spread tourism or seek to promote inclusive growth in tourism are eligible to apply.

To make our shortlist you should:

  • Have a proven business model with demonstrable local impact and a readiness to scale to multiple destinations

  • Want to be part of a community of startups that are turning tourism into a force for good

  • Be open to learn from and share experiences with other startups, working together with Booking.com to have more impact in the sector

Startups need to generate revenue, but no more than €1.5 million (or local currency equivalent) annually and must be registered as a for-profit business to apply.

All applicants must be fluent in English and should check their availability before applying for the Booking Booster. If you are unable to attend the Booster Programme for three weeks in May with two representatives, then you shouldn’t apply.

Application and, if applicable, participation in the Booster Programme is free of charge. See the Terms & Conditions for more details.


3. What are the judging criteria?

The judges will review applications keeping the following criteria in mind:

a.  Demonstrable positive impact on sustainable tourism;

b.  Innovative value proposition;

c.  Market opportunity and size;

d.  A proven and financially feasible business model and one that can scale;  

e.  Skills, experience and commitment of management team.


4. What stages and dates are key to the programme?


The Booking.com Booster comprises the following stages:


Application by the Applicants

1.    Online application by the Applicants via the Programme website between 4 December 2017 and 7 January 2018;

Selection of the Shortlisted Entrepreneurs

2.    Selection of the Shortlisted Entrepreneurs by the Promoter. Judging criteria are specified below in VI.1;

Booster Programme and Final Pitch by the Shortlisted Entrepreneurs

3.    A 2,5-week Booster Programme comprising of a series of lectures, workshops and mentoring taking place in Amsterdam in May 2018. Two representatives per startup will attend the Booster Programme;

4.    An opportunity to pitch your business and scaling plan in front of Booking.com executives a share of the EUR 2,000,000 Fund. Pitches take place at the end of the 2,5-week Booster Programme in Amsterdam.

Granting of the Fund to the Selected Startups

5.    After the pitches, the Promoter decides on the granting of funds to the Selected Startups.

Coaching and mentoring of the Selected Startups

6.    Mentoring support by the Promoter to the Selected Startups for a period up to 6 to 9 months after the Booster Programme in May 2018.

Financial Reporting

7. The Selected Startups who received a grant following their final pitch will be asked to update the Promoter on their business progress through sharing quarterly financial reports and regular phone calls over a period of two years after participating in the Booking Booster.

Impact measurement

8.    Measuring the impact of our support (grant & expert training and mentoring) has had for Selected Startups. This will be done through a survey and phone interviews on a yearly basis – up to three years after participating in the Booking Booster.


key dates 

The global application process opens 09.00 CET on 4 December 2018
Applications close 23.59 CET on 7 January 2018
Candidate Shortlisted Entrepreneurs are contacted and interviewed Between 7 and 17 February 2018*
Shortlisted Entrepreneurs confirmed and invited to the 2.5-week Booster Programme By 1 March 2018*
Shortlisted Entrepreneurs attend 2.5-week Booster Programme in Amsterdam 16 May to 31 May 2018*
Final Pitch and value of grants announced 31 May 2018*





5. Does Booking.com take equity?

No, Booking.com does not take any equity from your business. The financial support given will be in the form of a grant. In return, Booking.com will request updates on how your business and impact of your efforts are growing for up to 5 years after the completion of the programme. We will use this information on the programme website and other external channels.

If you have any questions that aren't covered here or in the Terms & Conditions, please drop us a note.